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Mother Wants Charges Reduced

By: Elizabeth Dorsett Email
By: Elizabeth Dorsett Email

The mother accused of leaving her toddler locked in a van in the Bed, Bath and Beyond parking lot went back in front of a judge in Lexington on Friday morning.

Tanuja Patel is facing wanton endangerment charges over the incident.

First responders took the stand to talk at the hearing about what they found when they got to the scene.

Also in court, Patel's lawyer says his clients charges are too strong.

He says Patel left the toddler in the backseat of the van with the remote start running, but officers say the van wasn't running when they got there. The also say there was no sign that the air had been on for more than half an hour.

"He was unresponsive when I entered the vehicle and was sweating profusely. It took a few times of me jostling him to wake him up," said Officer Grace Asher, "I was in fear for the child's life."

Asher broke into Patel's gray Honda Odyssey after witnesses reported the toddler had been locked inside for up to 36 minutes.

Patel's lawyer, Fred Peters, doesn't dispute his client was shopping in the Bed, Bath & Beyond, but he says she left the remote start running. He says the remote automatically shuts-off after 15 minutes.

"Unfortunately, she was there for a few more minutes. She didn't know the remote would shut off. That's her mistake. I don't condone that at all, but the child wasn't as endangered as they would have you believe," Peters said.

When Officer Asher was asked if Patel mentioned her car was running, Asher said it never came up.

Patel's lawyer says Patel should be charged with endangering the welfare of a minor, a lesser felony charge.

Patel's case will go before a grand jury next month.

On Thursday, a manager at the Bed, Bath & Beyond also went to court. Police say Elizabeth Miller would not let a couple use the telephone when they came in to the store to report there was a child locked in a vehicle.

Miller pleaded not guilty.


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